Ski / The Alps

Everything you need to know about ski passes in the Alps

Whether you are going skiing for two days, a week or the whole season, you’ll need a ski pass to use the lifts to get on the slopes.

But what do you need to know to make sure you get the perfect ski pass package? The price, the validity time, the type of pass, and the insurance are all important, as well as where and when you can buy it.

The way it works and the validity can vary from resort to resort. In this post, we outline everything you need to know about ski passes so you can make the most of your time on the mountain…

A skier descending a piste underneath red bubble lifts.

How to choose your ski pass

© PhotoMIX Company

When it comes to ski passes, it’s often difficult to know what to prioritise if you want the best balance of cost and time.

The most important point is the number of people you will be skiing with and their ages. Ski stations offer family passes which are less expensive than traditional ones. Similarly, if you are skiing with other people but won’t be taking children, a group pass might work out better than individual passes.

The second thing to take into account is the length of your holiday and, more generally, how often you are likely to ski during the season.

If you plan to spend multiple weeks skiing in one region, it may be worth purchasing a season lift pass, although this is something mainly purchased by locals and season workers.

On the other hand, if your holiday is just a few days long, a three-day pass might be the way to go.

One final thing to take into account is what sort of skier you are, and the level of the other skiers in your group.

Experienced skiers will be more interested in a pass which gives them access to the maximum amount of pistes, therefore opting for a full area pass is preferable.

Beginners, however, may not benefit from investing in a full area pass as they’ll often spend more time practising on slopes closer to their accommodation. First-time skiers may tire more easily whilst they are learning, so a half-day pass might be a better option for them if they need some rest after lessons.

To sum up, you need to understand which package is best suited to your style of skiing and your holiday to make the right choice. Remember to check where you can make savings according to the number of skiers in your group and their ages.

Un skieur descend une piste de ski pour se rendre dans la file d'attente de remontées mécaniques et valider son forfait

The different types of ski pass according to the resort

The different types of ski pass according to the resort and how they work

The 3 Vallées

The 3 Vallées offers four categories of ski passes: 

  • Season
  • Day passes and short stays
  • Weekly and per stay
  • Pedestrians

Several passes are available in each category so that everyone can choose what suits them best. They are all valid in the whole of the 3 Vallées area.

Each pass has its own freedoms, advantages and restrictions. The trick is to know exactly what you need. The domain offers four season passes ranging from 695€ to 1,191,20€ per person, six-day passes ranging from 45,30€ to 72€ per person, five week-long passes ranging from 288€ to 360€ per person and two pedestrian passes ranging from 27€ to 84€ per person.

How do the various ski pass categories differ?

The main difference is the duration of the ski pass, which can range from four hours to half a day or the whole day, weekend or week-long, all the way to either the whole season or part of it.

There are solo and family offers (two adults and two children) in each category, and the week and day packages also offer discounts for seniors and children.

Discover OVO Network properties in the 3 Vallées


The Portes du Soleil

The Portes du Soleil uses a hands-free system. Your ski pass comes in the form of a magnetic card that can be reloaded (up to 1,000 times in winter and summer). This earns you loyalty points which entitle you to free ski days. The card costs 3€ and is compulsory when you buy any ski pass valid for three days or more.

Each resort in the Portes du Soleil offers ski passes valid for the whole domain, or just part of it, which often includes several resorts. You’ll need to choose your resort and then decide between an “Espace Liberté” or “Portes du Soleil” pass.

The cost varies according to the resort and the period (beginning, middle or end of the season) so it might be worth comparing prices before you buy.

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Évasion Mont-Blanc

The Evasion Mont-Blanc area is made up of four resorts: Megève, Saint-Gervais, Les Contamines and the Portes du Mont-Blanc.

Every resort offers ski passes for its own area or for the whole of the Évasion Mont-Blanc area. It works in much the same way as the Portes du Soleil.

Our recommendations are therefore the same – compare before you buy and decide which works best for you – a cheaper but more restricted pass, or a pass which gives you access to the whole area.

Explore our partner properties in the Évasion Mont-Blanc


How much does a ski pass cost?

It’s impossible to give an exact price for a ski pass, as it depends on the length of your stay, the type of pass, the number of people in your group and the resort. In 2021, the average price per day was 30,10€ for an adult in high season. In 2022/3, the increase in energy costs could mean an increase in the price of ski passes.

The cheapest ski passes are often found in family resorts, which are smaller than the main ski areas. The more kilometres of ski slopes available to you, the more you will pay for your pass.

When is the best time to buy your ski pass?

The first ski resorts open in mid-late November, depending on snow conditions, but most open in early to mid-December, when the season officially starts. (Opening dates are not fixed and are subject to change.)

Your ski pass represents about 15% of the cost of your holiday. In an effort to reduce this expense, some ski resorts have been offering dynamic pricing since 2020. This means that the earlier you buy your pass, (usually online), the less you’ll pay. Conversely, the nearer you get to the start of the season, the closer the price is to the daily ticket office price.

For example, in Avoriaz, you can save between 26 and 60% of the cost of a five-day and season pass by buying it online before 15 November. It’s worth looking out for “Early Booking” offers from October onwards if you want the best deal.

Where should you buy your ski pass?

© PhotoMIX Company

It’s often advisable to buy your ski pass online in advance, either on the resort website or through partner websites such as travel agencies. You can also buy your pass in the resort from equipment rental shops or directly from the ticket offices at the bottom of the lifts.

Possible deals and discounts

As we mentioned earlier, a good way to buy your ski pass is to get in early and take advantage of the discounts available in October and November – or even early September.

But there are other options: some companies have good deals, such as Passe Montagne’s Dahu offer. This rechargeable card (10€) is aimed at anyone who plans to ski in different resorts from time to time. The pass holder can then enjoy great discounts on day passes in more than 50 ski areas.

Don’t get caught out!

Ski passes are a must for winter holidays, but they can be a source of frustration and scams.

It’s important to know what is included in your ski pass to avoid nasty surprises. Some passes can include access to the slopes, lifts, equipment, ski lessons, etc.

Others may be included in accommodation or equipment rental. If this is the case, make sure you know what sort of pass you are getting. It is also important to read the general conditions so that you know what restrictions apply to your package.

Be careful if you are not buying your ski pass through the traditional channels. There are a lot of scams online, and if you buy from street vendors at the foot of the slopes, you don’t know if the pass is personal, whether the person has taken out insurance or whether it is still valid, etc.

All you need to know about insurance

© Kevin Schmid

When you head to the slopes, the resorts automatically offer you additional insurance for 3 or 4€ per day. Is it worth it?

In case of theft, loss or damage

The Commission of Abusive Clauses considers as unfair a clause mentioning the non-replacement of the package following loss, theft or damage. A duplicate should be offered to you when you present your proof of purchase.

In case of personal circumstances

Many unforeseen events could crop up before or during your holiday – illness, a lack of snow, the death of a relative, etc. Ski insurance, which costs between 15 and 20€ per week per person, entitles you to compensation on your ski pass. You can take it out when you buy your pass or separately.

In case of technical faults

Skiers taking a chair lift through a snowy forest
After validating their ski passes, skiers can use the lifts.

Anyone who has ever been on at least one ski trip knows that technical problems are common. But they don’t all have the same consequences. Being stuck on the chairlift is frustrating, but it’s something you come to expect, in a way.

On the other hand, if the lifts are stopped for more than half a day, you may be entitled to compensation. However, this may depend on the ski pass and the number of lifts that have been affected.

In case of an accident

Insurance policies usually cover rescue, medical and hospital costs. Depending on your policy and the type of accident, you may be entitled to compensation ranging from an extension of your ski pass to a full refund.

However, the conditions can vary and are often judged on a case-by-case basis. Ask at the resort and read the general conditions of sale of the ski pass and the insurance.

If you are looking to book your next ski holiday at one of our properties, visit our website for more details. We can offer you both flexibility and expert local advice.

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